Demand sags for California credits aimed at greenhouse gases

Repost from Associated Press

Demand sags for California credits aimed at greenhouse gases

By Ellen Knickmeyer, Aug. 23, 2016 6:46 PM EDT

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — California’s latest carbon auction brought disappointing results Tuesday as litigation and lagging support by lawmakers weigh down the state’s landmark programs combating climate change.

State officials said only 34 percent of the available carbon pollution credits were sold in the latest auction under the program, which requires companies that emit climate-changing gases to buy the pollution permits.

It was a slight rebound from this spring, when investors bought just 10 percent of the pollution credits offered, signaling a rocky period for the state’s overall campaign against climate-changing pollution from fossil fuels.

The cap-and-trade program is a keystone of Gov. Jerry Brown’s efforts to reduce climate-changing pollution in California and is being watched closely around the world as other governments put together efforts to fight climate change.

Dave Clegern, spokesman for the state air board that runs the effort, said the program is adapting as it should to shifts in the market.

“The California cap-and-trade program is first and foremost a greenhouse gas reduction program, and it is working” to bring down carbon pollution from fossil fuels, Clegern said in an email.

Pollution credits consistently sold out after the cap-and-trade program began in 2012, bringing in hundreds of millions of dollars quarterly for initiatives that reduce greenhouse gases. The proceeds are used to fund a high-speed rail project pushed by Brown, along with other transit construction and energy conservation efforts.

This year, demand plummeted amid uncertainty about the program’s viability. The result was the steep decline in revenue at a spring auction, prompting concerns that funding won’t be available long-term to continue the programs.

Brown, backed by environmental groups and some Democratic lawmakers, is struggling to win support for extending the state’s landmark global warming law amid opposition from oil companies, Republicans and moderate Democrats in the Legislature.

Republican lawmakers called the latest middling auction results a failure and a flop, and called again for the state to abandon the cap-and-trade program.

However, the state Assembly took a critical step Tuesday when it advanced the latest global warming legislation to the state Senate, where it is also expected to pass before next week. Both chambers are dominated by Democrats.

The California Chamber of Commerce is fighting cap-and-trade in court, claiming it is an illegal tax that did not go through the proper legislative approval process.

The lawsuit in particular is scaring away some potential investors, said Dan McGraw, a Houston-based carbon analyst with the ICIS trade publication.

“Potentially there’s a lot to lose if the California Chamber of Commerce wins that case,” McGraw said.

The growing backlog of unsold carbon credits also is weighing on the cap-and-trade program, he said.

“They’re going through something every carbon market has gone through,” the analyst said. “The question is: What do you do now?”

The latest auction results show that the market needs certainty about the state’s long-term cap and trade program, through either the Legislature or state voters vouching for its future in a ballot initiative, Nancy McFadden, Brown’s chief of staff, said in a statement.

    EARTHTALK: Where Do Vice President Candidates Pence & Kaine Stand on Environment?

    Repost from Earthtalk

    Where Do Vice President Candidates Pence & Kaine Stand on Environment?

    By John McReynolds, 08/13/2016

    Dear EarthTalkWhere do the Vice President choices for the upcoming Presidential election (Tim Kaine and Mike Pence) stand in terms of environmental track record and commitment?

    Mitchell Finan, Butte, MT

    Not surprisingly given the current political climate, the respective Vice Presidential candidates differ on most of the issues, including their policies on the environment and energy.

    kaine pence sml 400x267 Where Do Vice President Candidates Pence & Kaine Stand on Environment?
    The two Vice Presidential candidates (Democrat Tim Kaine and Republican Mike Pence) could hardly be father apart on their respective stances on conservation, environment, energy and what to do about climate change. Credit: Joel Rivlin, Gage Skidmore

    On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton’s VP choice Tim Kaine has opposed big oil companies since his career as Virginia State Senator. He first endorsed a “25% renewables by 2025” goal back in 2007, and has continued his staunch support ever since. He has been a champion of diversifying America’s energy portfolio. “We’re not going to drill our way out of the long-term energy crisis facing this nation and the world… we can’t keep relying oil,” said Kaine back in 2008. He reinforced this position again in his 2012 Senate race by arguing against tax subsidies for major oil companies.

    As far as environmental protection, he has not shown much of a track record in support or against. In May of 2013, he did vote affirmatively on a bill to protect ocean, coastal and Great Lakes ecosystems. The League of Conservation Voters (LCV), which puts out an annual national environmental scorecard for politicians, has attributed a 91 percent lifetime score to Kaine, clearly naming him as one of our nation’s leading politicians. More recently, in late 2015, Kaine voted against a bill that attacked Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) carbon pollution limits. Of course, a Republican dominated Congress passed the bill anyway, although President Obama quickly vetoed it to maintain stricter limits on carbon pollution.

    Across the aisle, Donald Trump’s VP selection, Mike Pence, lacks any sort of environmental agenda in his political career. The LCV gives him a lifetime score of only four percent, meaning he is no friend of the environment. Pence, who served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 2001-2013 when he assumed the Indiana governorship, voted against a “Cash for Clunkers” recycling program in 2009 and also voted no on a bill improving public transportation in 2008. Meanwhile, he voted affirmatively for deauthorizing critical habitat zones and approving forest thinning projects in 2005 and 2003, respectively.

    As for energy policy, Pence supported the “25% renewable energy…” goal in 2007 like his opponent Kaine. However, since then, he has supported offshore drilling, opposed EPA regulation of greenhouse gases and voted without any environmental conscience. He also voted against incentives for alternative fuels, for the construction of new oil refineries, and against criminalizing oil cartels such as OPEC.

    “I think the science is very mixed on the subject of global warming,” Pence stated in 2009. His record of the environment since then reflects his continued skepticism toward environmental protection efforts.

    For environmentalists, Kaine is the obvious choice over Pence, which is no surprise given the Presidential candidates who selected each of them as running mates. While Hillary Clinton may have focused more attention on other political issues over her career, she has continuously supported environmental protection and the transition away from fossil fuels, while Donald Trump has fought environmental restrictions on his ability to operate his real estate empire and recently told reporters he would consider reneging on U.S. commitments to reduce greenhouse gases made at the recent Paris climate summit.

      LATEST DERAILMENT: 26 coal cars derail, 5 end up in creek north of Fort Worth TX

      Repost from Fox4, Fort Worth TX
      [Editor: See also CBSDFW.com for more video and images.  – RS]

      Train derailment causes major delays north of Fort Worth

      By: Josiah Sage, Aug 21 2016 07:50PM CDT, updated Aug 22 2016 08:59AM CDT

      Crewmembers believe a bridge failure caused more than 26 rail cars on a Union Pacific freight train to derail north of Fort Worth Sunday night.

      It happened around 6 p.m. as the train was traveling over a bridge near Highway 377 in Roanoke. No one was hurt, but five of the train cars ended up in Denton Creek.

      Union Pacific said the train was carrying coal, so nothing hazardous spilled into the creek. But it will still take some time to clean up the mess.

      “There’s a lot of work that’s been done, a lot of work that’s been done since overnight. When I went on scene just moments ago you could see the big construction equipment tearing apart the rail cars. I guess instead of lifting and removing them they just crushed them and they are in pieces,” said Det. Sandy Pettigrew with the Roanoke Police Department.

      The derailment is still causing some traffic problems on Hwy. 377 between FM 1171 and Bobcat Boulevard. The highway is expected to be closed most of the day and that will likely affect traffic heading to the nearby Byron Nelson High School.